Hello, wonderful readers. This one shot is most certainly a selfish update, for I wanted to inform you that I'm working on an original story over at Fictionpress that I'm hoping to publish sometime in the near future once I have it completed. Many of you have said you wanted me to let you know when I started writing something that wasn't borrowed from JK Rowling's world, and here is your chance to read along and offer encouragement and criticism.

JK Rowling owns it all. This one shot takes place in Harry Potter and the Philosopher'sStone, before Harry Potter awakens from his first fight with Quirrell and Dumbledore. This is also a missing moment from my abandoned novel "I, Draco."

If you like this one-shot, don't be shy and check out some of my other stuff.

Draco's Realization

Draco Malfoy awoke suddenly with a groggy mind, staring at a ceiling as a methodical pain thumped inside his head. The blonde-haired Slytherin rubbed the top of his skull and winced as his hands slid over a bandage. Questions of where he was and how he got to this comfortable bed were worrying him until he realized he must be in school infirmary.

"It's good to see you awake, Draco."

The young first year turned and stared into the face of Severus Snape. The torches flickered off the castle walls, sending shadows across the potion master's face, reflecting deep emotions in his gray eyes. The man was standing between Draco and another occupied bed. Draco repositioned himself to look around the professor, only to recognize the unruly, dark hair of Potter. For some reason, the boy he despised was sharing a bed next to him in the hospital wing. Potter was breathing normally, Draco observed, and there seemed to be no other visible ailments on the Gryffidor's body.

Draco turned from Potter's form, back to the dark eyes of Snape, and suddenly remembered why he was there. Hours ago, Draco had seen a nauseating scene in which Professor Quirinus Quirrell unwrapped his turban in his office only to reveal a parasite attached to the back of his head. Draco had heard the rumors, had listened to his father's stories that the Dark Lord was returning, but never did Draco think it would happen like that. Draco wanted, needed that image not to be of the Dark Lord. Surely Voldemort was far more prestigious than the creature attached to the back of Quirrel's head, surely all the dignified images he imagined were the correct interpretation of the most powerful wizard of all time. He couldn't be that… the creature was weak, dependent on others for its survival…

He had been hidden away, watching the scene, and remembered feeling light headed. He must have passed out before Quirrel knew he was there...

And suddenly Draco frowned. The creature had been leaching off Professor Quirrell, talking about stealing the Philosopher's Stone in order to return to power. Draco had been wrong all year. He had mistaken the scene during the Quidditch game so long ago, thinking it was Snape trying to kill Potter and Quirrel protecting him, not the other way around. Draco had been offering his help to his Potion Master since then, begging Snape to let him assist him in thwarting Potter, had even tried to orchestrate Potter's expulsion several times...

But it was Quirrell, not Snape, that had been seeking the Stone all year... Snape was...

No, no, no, now, how could I have been wrong? Draco thought.

"Professor," Draco started slowly, "It wasn't you… but… I saw… you were…"

"Perception and reality, Draco," the man said, "are two entirely separate things. One cannot always believe what their eyes see."

Draco ignored the small, throbbing pain in his skull and sat up on the edge of the bed. "You… weren't trying to kill Potter?" he questioned, pointing to the boy in the bed.

His lips twitched, almost as if he was hiding a smile. "As tempting as that sounds," he replied, "I daresay if I had committed murder on school grounds, I would be forfeiting my retirement benefits."

Draco shook his head, trying his best to understand, to piece together all the puzzle pieces he had been given this year. Slowly, it all began to fit, but the picture he expected to see was not visible.

"Professor Quirrell…?" he said, attempting for it make sense. "It was… Quirrell?"

"I was equally as shocked as you were," replied Snape, this time smiling amusingly. "Remember, however, that he was not working alone, so credit is not fully his own."

Draco shuddered, once again remembering the scene he had just witnessed. "Professor, was that…?" he started, not wanting to really know. "Was that the Dark Lord?"

"Dumbledore seems to think so," Snape answered quietly.

Draco gulped. "You were working against him," he said, not meeting Snape's eyes.

Snape cleared his throat. "Draco, to my knowledge, Quirrell was nothing more than an avaricious wizard seeking immortality and wealth. I was unaware of the presence of any other dark wizards."

"And if you did know?"

Draco waited eagerly for the answer for what seemed like a lifetime. The question was never answered that day and it would continue to be a mystery for years to come. As his anticipation grew, they were interrupted by someone entering the room.

"Severus," came the recognizable voice of Albus Dumbledore, "how is the boy?"

Draco was under the impression that the Old Man was referring to himself. However Snape, turning to look Potter, was apparently not in the room watching over him. Turning from Potter to Dumbledore, he said simply, "Alive."

"That is all I can hope for at this moment," said Dumbledore softly.

"I predict another 30 hours until he is well enough for Madam Pomfrey to take over," said Snape.

"Thank you, Severus," the Old Man said. "I know this must be difficult for you."

Snape said nothing else. It was strange to Draco, after all this time, realizing that Snape was not out to kill Potter. He was staying awake in the early morning hours to take care of a student he despised. Or had that all been an act as well?

"Mr. Malfoy," said Dumbledore. "Now that you're awake, there are some things I'd like to discuss with you." In the faint light of the room, he motioned for the young student to follow. "Of course, if you're still feeling less than 100 percent, I understand."

Snape turned his head a fraction back to check Draco's reaction. Draco touched his head, wincing slightly at the pain, but didn't want to appear weak. He rose from the bed, slowly following the headmaster from the hospital wing.

"Dumbledore," Draco said, exiting the door with him. "What happened?"

"You know about as much as I do, Mr. Malfoy," he said. "We will both have to wait until Mr. Potter is both conscious and alert, something I'm sure you're actively worried about."

Draco shook his head. "When I asked, that is not what I wanted."

"Tell me, Mr. Malfoy, what is it that you want?"

Draco looked strangely at him, wondering exactly what his question meant. As usual, there was a hidden motive in the inquiry and the Slytherin hated him for it. Finally, he replied, "I'm not sure I understand your question."

"Your ambitions, young man, your ambitions," he said, an odd twinkle in his eye. "You are a Slytherin. Surely you have some kind of ambition."

Draco didn't know what kind of game the Old Man was playing, so he decided not to answer. They passed through the hallways side by side, walking slowly. It must be nearing breakfast, because Draco felt his stomach rumble.

"If you don't know, I'm sure you won't mind if I venture a guess," he said, his hands clasped behind his back. When Draco once again didn't answer, he continued, "All year, Mr. Malfoy, you have been looking for a place, a purpose, if you will, in this school. You wanted so badly to be special, to have others remember your name."

Draco grinned. "So far, so good, Professor," he muttered.

Dumbledore chuckled. "I've followed your journey closely, studying you, trying to understand what exactly is was that you needed," he went on. "And what fascinated me the most, far more than your constant rivalry with Mr. Potter, was your seemingly blind devotion to Lord Voldemort."

Draco stopped abruptly.

"Or, at least, your idealist vision of what you think Voldemort is," he said, stopping a half meter away from him. He looked back, waiting patiently. "Your father has given you a crude sketch of what Voldemort was, but he has done you an injustice to not provide you with all the colors of that sketch."

"Don't talk about my father," Draco hissed. "He's a good man."

"He could be a good man," Dumbledore said as Draco's patience wore thin. "He certainly has the power and talent to be, but he lacks the courage."

"My father told me about you," Draco retorted, changing the subject slightly and scowling at the headmaster. "He told me how you were going to use Potter when he was a baby to kill the Dark Lord."

"And did Lucius inform you what Voldemort wanted to use you for?"

Draco gritted his teeth so hard, it hurt. "You lie," he whispered.

"Oh," said Dumbledore casually, continuing through the hallway. Draco immediately started following. "Voldemort doesn't sound like the type to you? Tell me, do you know what happened to Professor Quirrell tonight?"

Draco shook his head.

"Voldemort abandoned him, at first sign that Qurrell could no longer serve a purpose, and at first sign that Voldemort himself might face another, more costly defeat."

"What's your point, professor?" he asked.

"My point, Mr. Malfoy, is while Voldemort promises great rewards to his followers' success, he also shows great punishment for their failures," he said. "He does not value human life or family ties. He does not value the things you yourself hold most dear."

"And what is that?" he questioned curiously.

Dumbledore didn't answer the question directly. As they neared the entrance hall, his lips widened, as if he knew some sort of secret. "Tell me, Mr. Malfoy," he said after a moment's silence, "Have you ever heard of the Mirror of Erised?"

Draco nodded slowly, wondering the mirror had to do with the conversation. "My Father said it was in castle," he said.

"And right he was," replied Dumbledore. "I managed to borrow the Mirror from the Department of Mysteries for the whole term. Did your father happen to tell you what it does?"

Draco shook his head. "No."

"Well, it's a powerful magical instrument invented by Nicholas Flamel and myself many years ago," he answered. "It was at a time in both our lives when we were searching for answers. We created the mirror to address life's most puzzling question of why. Rather though, as a peculiar side effect, the mirror reflects what a person truly wants the most in this world."

"Why are you telling me this?" Draco asked.

"I've been most curious all year what you would see should you have run across the mirror," he said. "At first, if I had to predict, I'd say you would see Voldemort's return, you at his right hand, especially with your relentless campaign to assist Professor Snape in what you thought was his own quest for power."

Draco gritted his teeth, wondering how the old man possessed so much knowledge about his life.

"I realized as I watched you, though your allegiances might be questioned, I believe your priorities are in the right place. You, Mr. Malfoy, are highly devoted to your family, isn't that right?"

Draco nodded.

"Well then, I have an idea of what you would see in the mirror," said Dumbledore.

"And what's that?" Draco questioned, looking inquisitively at the Old Man.

Draco stopped as Dumbledore stopped. They had reached the entrance hall, but there was a large mirror standing in the entrance way, seemingly ready to be taken away from the castle and back to its home in the Ministry.

"I suppose it's not important what I think you'll see, but rather what you yourself think you will see," he said, extending his hand toward the mirror, giving Draco permission to view it.

Draco took a step closer to the mirror, reading the strange words on top of the framing. It truly was a beautiful object and he wondered why his Father had wanted it taken from the castle. As the boy took another careful step forward, Dumbledore said more.

"I assume you will most likely dismiss most of my words and lesson in the years to come," he said from behind him. "But please, I implore you, remember one thing. A person must chose his own path, or have it chosen for him."

Draco stepped finally in the view of the mirror, noticing himself looking back from the glass. He held his breath, anticipating what image would reflect on the surface, an image that would shape and form his life from that moment forward.

"Well, damn," Draco whispered.

end -

If you like this one-shot, don't be shy and check out some of my other stuff.

Don't forget, you can find my original novel-in-progress "Nine Days" at fictionpress. com/~thejealousone